You’ll be hard pressed to find a Kettering resident who hasn’t been to Frank’s at some point in their lifetime.
The legendary restaurant has served thousands upon thousands of wood-fired pizzas using a secret family recipe handed down through the generations.
And this week it is celebrating its 50th anniversary having first opened to town diners in 1972.
It was the brainchild of Francesco ‘Frank’ Angieri, who came to the UK in 1953 aged 19 and had a contract in a brick company. He couldn’t read or write but had plenty of ambition and wanted to build a better life for himself and his family.
After spending a few years travelling back and forth between England and Italy, and after the birth of children Pasquale, Raffaello and Nancy with wife Caterina, the family settled in Kettering in 1971 when Frank found the property on the corner of Havelock Street and Nelson Street.
Frank’s first opened as a cafe in 1972, serving local factory workers. After trialling his pizza-making in an outside oven for a few years, Frank and his family decided to start opening in the evenings in 1980 due to a slowing day-time trade because of factory closures – and that’s when they started selling their pizzas full-time.
Frank knew there were no other pizza places for miles and was convinced it would do well, certain that it was the next best thing to fish and chips. His family recalled him saying ‘give it 10 years and there will be pizzas being sold everywhere’.
He printed his first menus in Italian and with the novelty of a new restaurant it was really busy, with customers coming from as far away as Bedford and Peterborough. However, after a couple of weeks, things started to become quiet. Frank wouldn’t rest – he knew something was wrong with so did his rounds, asking the locals what the problem was.
As it turned out they didn’t understand the menu with some saying they didn’t like anchovies on their pizzas. Soon after the menu was translated into English and he made it clear the anchovies could be removed, and things soon picked back up again.
Caterina used to make the dough by hand in a bowl and, even after they bought their first dough machine, she still made them by hand for a while out of habit.
The pizzeria – which has a penchant for peas as a topping – was run by Frank, his wife and their three children for many years.
Frank died in 1994 just after his 60th birthday, with Caterina passing away at the age of 80 in 2012.
Daughter Nancy said: “My dad was such a proud man and once he had an idea he did everything to make it work for us. He was so well-loved and respected by so many people.”
Son Pasquale, with the support of his wife Giuseppina, took on the restaurant full-time after Frank’s death.
All of the family have played or are due to play their part in the firm in one way or another.
They include Frank’s first grandchild Dominica, who was born in 1976 and was followed by Georgina, Caterina, Robert, Maria, Sophia, Francesco and Rico.
The first great-grandchild Lauren arrived in 1994, followed by Dominic, Francesca, Kayden, Libby, Franco, Dexter, Amaleigh, Darcey, Gio and Imogen.
And those waiting to play a part include Frank’s great-great grandchild Isaac, who was born in 2012, followed by Phoebe, Alice and Frankie.
These days Pasquale and his wife are still doing their bit in the background, with his three children taking on more of the responsibilities.
Pasquale said: “I did my bit in the restaurant growing up, just as we all did. After my dad passed I took on the role full-time. It’s not always been easy, but with the support of my family, and wonderful customers, we’ve kept dad’s legacy alive.
“It’s been a pleasure to have my own children join in alongside me and I hope its something that can continue with the next generation to come.
“On behalf of myself and my family I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our customers for your continued support over the years and all those to come – we couldn’t have done it without you.”